When Ben and Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim made the decision last spring to launch Empower Mint, a new ice-cream flavor, in North Carolina, it was a political move. The company wanted to raise awareness about racially motivated voter suppression and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. It donated 1.5% of sales of the new flavor to the local NAACP chapter to help register voters.
“We lost,” Solheim says of this initiative, but he is proud of the company’s efforts. He clarifies that the loss is not because of the results of the presidential elections, per se, but because as a nation we have made only a small dent in addressing the real problem of voter suppression in our democracy. It was widely reported that voting in African-American communities was lower than 2008 or 2012 numbers, as a result of the new voter ID laws and voting site closures in states across the country.
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